At Newcastle University, I am module leader for American Popular Music (MUS2083), Popular Music and Media (MUS2085) and Global Pop (MUS3009). I also teach on Music and Philosophy (MUS3076) and Understanding World Music (MUS1011).
American Popular Music (MUS2083) examines the historical, social and cultural contexts of American popular music, focussing predominantly on the USA. Emphasis is placed on popular genres and styles of the twentieth century, the period in which the USA took on a dominant role in the creation and spread of popular culture across the globe. As well as charting this growth in dominance, the module analyses popular music as representative ‘people’s music’. Genres and styles—including the blues, jazz, country, soul, funk, punk, disco, hip hop and grunge—are used to read aspects of change and continuity in the American twentieth century.
Rather than providing a simple chronological history of musical styles in the USA, the module uses the music to examine concepts of race, place, tradition, commerce and authenticity. The music industry is analysed in terms of American business models, and recording and revival are explored as ways of thinking about representation, commercialization and exceptionalism. Vital socio-historical moments—such as the emergence of rock and roll and the use of music in the civil rights era—are studied alongside the ‘invention’ of the teenager and the rise of a counterculture. The module concludes with a series of reflections on the various soundscapes associated with America and with the notion of multiple Americas audible through the myriad of non-Anglophone genres that exist within North America.
Popular Music and Media (MUS2085) explores the relationship between popular music and media from a variety of critical and sociohistorical perspectives. In posing questions about the ways in which music has been produced, consumed, curated and mutated, the module sheds light on the ideological structures underpinning the mediation of music in the past and present. It does so by examining the relationships between musical production and media technologies (the microphone, phonograph, radio, film, television, mp3, social media, etc.); the changing role and place of music in society as understood through an analysis of media technologies; the meaning and nature of musical mediation and reception in society; the political economy of the music industry; the creative potential of media technologies for processes of musicking and remediation (including mixing, mash-ups, memes and plunderphonics); the mediation of music in work and leisure activities (the use of music while we work and play); case studies of key figures who have shaped our understanding of popular music and media, from musicians and producers to theorists and philosophers.
Global Pop (MUS3009) traces the growth in awareness of musics from around the world from the early twentieth century onwards, an awareness made possible by developments in sound recording. From the first global recording boom of the 1920s to the contemporary mania for digging into the past (vinyl archaeology), sound recordings have been a primary means for listeners to experience otherness, for the music industry to diversify its market and for ‘experts’ (critics, DJs, collectors, academics) to attempt to master discourses around other cultures. The module also explores the contemporary global pop scene (its artists, objects, networks, practices and platforms) and considers the ways in which this scene (incorporating World Music 2.0 and outernational musics) can be distinguished from earlier periods of ‘international’ and ‘world’ music. To get a sense of the kind of things we study, check out the playlists on YouTube, Spotify and SoundCloud.
MMus elective: Popular Music and the Politics of Authenticity
MMus and MLitt dissertation supervision
Courses I have taught in the past
Popular Music Cultures (University of Sussex)
The Rise of Classical Music (University of Sussex)
Introduction to Music Studies (University of Sussex)
Ensemble Performance (University of Sussex)
Music, Media and Culture (University of Sussex)
Dissertation & Project supervision, inc. research & study skills
Popular Music and the Politics of Authenticity (Newcastle University) Further details
Ritual, Remembrance and Recorded Sound (Newcastle University) Further details
Urban Musicology (Newcastle University) Further details
English Language Teaching
General English (beginners to Proficiency)
English for Academic Purposes